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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 March 2023

1

Trump warns of ‘death’ if arrested

Donald Trump has warned of “death and destruction” if he is indicted for making hush payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. In a post on his Truth Social network, he asked “what kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States” with a crime, “when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?” Meanwhile, a death threat and white powder have been sent to the district attorney investigating Trump.

2

King ‘disappointed’ by France cancellation

King Charles III is “disappointed” he has not been able to lead Britain’s post-Brexit reset with France after his state visit was postponed at the “eleventh hour”, reported the inews site. The three-day visit, which had been due to begin on Sunday, was postponed by Emmanuel Macron, the French president, due to increasingly violent clashes over his decision to force through pension reforms. A palace source told the paper the King had been looking forward to discussing with Macron “how our two great nations are working together to increase our ties even further”.

3

Crackdown on anti-social crimes

Anti-social crimes are to be targeted with a strategy of “hotspot” policing and “short and sharp” punishments under plans to be announced next week. Offences such as open drug use, fly-tipping and graffiti will be approached with “tougher” enforcement powers. There will also be new laws to crack down on beggars asking for money at ATMs and a ban on the sale and possession of nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas. Downing Street is keen to “seize back the initiative on law and order from Labour”, said The Times.

4

Spy held secret IRA talks

An MI5 spy who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland by defying orders has told the BBC that he held “unauthorised” talks with the IRA. Talks were called off by the British government in 1993 after IRA bombs killed two young boys in England but the spy still secretly met IRA leaders in March that year. Speaking to the BBC, he claimed that what he said in that meeting encouraged the leaders to declare the ceasefire and move towards the process that eventually led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

5

Soft cheese linked to listeria outbreak

Health experts said one person has died in a UK listeria outbreak linked to contaminated cheese. The food standards watchdog and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is warning the public not to eat Baronet semi-soft cheeses, which it said have been recalled due to being contaminated with listeria. Around 120 cases of listeriosis are confirmed in England every year and foods carrying a high risk of the bacteria include soft cheeses, pate and chilled sliced meats.

6

Macron’s watch sparks outcry

Emmanuel Macron has been criticised after he removed a luxury watch during a television interview about pension changes. The French president’s representatives said he took off the watch because it was “clinking on the table” but critics have claimed the watch shows he is out of touch with the public. The Élysée Palace has denied claims the watch is worth as much as £70,000. France is currently convulsed by protests and strikes over Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

7

Teachers speak out on Ofsted

Senior teachers have told The Guardian that “Ofsted’s punishing inspection regime” is driving them out of the profession, with claims that “overwhelming panic” is damaging their physical and mental wellbeing. Although the chief inspector of schools in England has defended the need for inspections, she has conceded that there’s a “legitimate” debate to be had about removing grades from inspections. The news comes following revelations around the death of Ruth Perry, a headteacher whose family say she took her own life after a critical Ofsted inspection rated her school’s leadership as inadequate.

8

Biden ‘disappointed with Harris’

Joe Biden is angry with Kamala Harris for not “rising to the occasion” and failing to take more “off his plate” for fear of not succeeding, said Reuters. “A point of tension in their relationship is that I don’t think that the president sees her as somebody who takes anything off of his plate [due to] a fear of messing up,” said an anonymous former staffer. Sources close to Harris told the New York Times that she was not happy being tasked with the migration crisis, which is seen as an intractable issue.

9

Truss wants peerages for backers

Liz Truss has requested peerages for some of her closest supporters despite her government lasting only seven weeks after a divisive budget. The former PM is understood to have already submitted a list of peerages, even as Downing Street is considering whether to grant a long list of honours requested by Boris Johnson. Truss’ list includes Sir Jon Moynihan, a big pro-Brexit donor to the Conservative Party, and Matthew Elliott, who ran the Brexit campaign in 2016, The Sun reported. Others are said to include Ruth Porter, Truss’s deputy chief of staff in No 10.

10

Portas attacks John Lewis plan

John Lewis has “let go of its soul”, said the retail consultant and former Downing Street adviser Mary Portas. In a “scathing” open letter to the John Lewis chairman and incoming chief executive Nish Kankiwala, Mary Portas said she was speaking up “on behalf of the British nation”, reported The Telegraph. “You’re fighting to save part of our collective cultural identity,” she added. The development comes after it was reported that John Lewis could water down its decades-old staff ownership model by selling a stake to an outside investor.

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